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Legends On Deck

Seattle Mariners: How They Were Built

2015 Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners were one of the most improved teams heading into 2015.  After a 16-game improvement to the win column, there was plenty to get excited for this season.  They boast a young pitching staff but do have a true ace.  Their lineup was good last season and will be better this season with the players they picked up along the way.

Starting Pitchers

Felix Hernandez – Signed as an amateur free agent by the Mariners in 2002.  It is hard to believe that King Felix is entering his 11th year in the major leagues.  The other thing I find it hard to believe is that he is only 28-years old.  He has a career 125-92 record, five All-Star appearances, and a Cy Young Award.  He has been a bright spot on a team that has searched for them in recent years and is extremely durable.  He has made 30+ starts every full season he has played, logging 200 innings and recording nearly 200 strikeouts.  Hernandez is signed through the 2019 season with a mutual option for 2020.

James Paxton – Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Mariners.  The young Paxton will be playing in his first full season as a member of Seattle’s rotation.  In his 17 career starts, he is 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA which is plenty to be excited about.  Prior to making it to the major leagues, Paxton was looked at as one of the top Mariner pitching prospects.

Hisashi Iwakuma – Signed as an amateur free agent with the Mariners in 2012.  The Japanese import has been really good so far in his time in North America.  He has made 77 major league starts and is 38-20 with an ERA a little over three.  He has a delivery that we have grown used to from pitches that hail from the land of the rising sun.  He was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2013, and certainly has what it takes to make many more of them.

Taijuan Walker – Drafted in the first round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Mariners.  Walker is a name we have been hearing for the past several seasons as one of the top pitching prospects in the Mariners organization.  He has made just 11 big league starts in parts of two seasons but looks to have secured a spot in the rotation.  The 22-year has a MLB record of 3-3 with an ERA of 2.89.

J.A. Happ – Acquired in trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in December of 2014.  Happ is now entering his ninth season in the major leauges carrying with him a 51-53 record and an ERA of 4.24.  He spent the middle of his career on a bad Houston Astros team which didn’t help his numbers at all.  He should do fine in the number five spot in the rotation and have some offense to back him up.

Bullpen

Fernando Rodney (CL) – Signed a two-year $14 million free agent contract with the Mariners in 2014.  Recognizable for his crooked hat and his final out antics, Rodney has been one of the better closers in the leagues that last few seasons.  In his first in Seattle he did nothing but appear in 69 games and record an American League leading 48 saves.  The 38-year old has 220 career saves and two All-Star appearances.

Danny Farquhar – Acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees in July of 2012.  Farquhar made his major league debut in September of 2011 as a member of the Blue Jays.  He made 66 appearances in 2014 with the Mariners and finished the season with a record of 3-1 with one save and an ERA of 2.66.  He is a guy that can get the outs and hand the ball over to Rodney to close things down.  He is a strikeout pitcher and has a career 11.3 k/9 which is good even though he doesn’t come with a ton of experience.

Charlie Furbush – Acquired in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in 2011.  The 6’5 lefty is in his fifth season with the Mariners and actually his fifth season in the majors overall as he spent time in Detroit as well.  He made 138 appearances over the last two seasons in the Emerald City and did a decent job.  His record wasn’t the best but his 11.1 and 10.9 K/9 is good.

Tom Wilhelmsen – Signed a one-year $1.4 million free agent contract with the Mariners in 2015.  Wilhelmsen had the closer duties prior to Rodney signing with the team.  He has been on a series of one-year deals the last few seasons with Seattle and is a nice option out of the bullpen.

Tyler Olson – Drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 amateur draft by the Mariners.  Olson has yet to make his major league debut, but could provide another left arm out of the pen.

Starting Lineup

Mike Zunino (C) – Drafted in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft by the Mariners.  Zunino is entering his second full season in the big leagues.  2014 wasn’t the greatest for the former top prospect as he managed to hit just .199.  One number that does stand out are the 22 home runs he managed to hit.  The other number that stands out is his .995 fielding percentage.  It seems like the team can deal with the lower batting average as long as the pop stays on his bat and he is good behind the dish.

Logan Morrison (1B) – Acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins in 2013.  Lo Mo is a player we have been hearing about and waiting to break-out.  He has put together some nice seasons but not outstanding.  He is capable of hitting for power as a former 20+ home run hitter (which was his first as a full-time player).  He should get plenty of playing time which could be all that he needs to ignite.

Robinson Cano (2B) – Signed a 10-year $240 million free agent contract with the Mariners in December of 2013.  There really doesn’t need to be much time spent on what Cano has done.  He is a perennial All-Star that hits for power and average and is also good with the leather.  He is certainly looked at, along with King Felix, to be the centerpieces of what the Mariners are trying to do.  They have acquired other pieces to help out and will be a team on the rise.

Kyle Seager (3B) – Drafted in the third round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Mariners.  Seager is an exciting young player with loads of talent.  He made the American League All-Star team in 2014 and it certainly won’t be his last.  He hits 20+ home runs a season and does a decent job getting on base.  With players like Cano and Cruz he should see plenty of pitches to hit.

Brad Miller (SS) – Drafted in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft by the Mariners.  For a while it was unsure if Miller was going to be the guy or if it was going to be Nick Franklin.  A trade last July with the Rays answered that question.  Miller has work to do but at only 25-years old he has time.  He is a career .243 hitter in 200 games.

Dustin Ackley (LF) – Drafted in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft by the Mariners.  He is yet another homegrown talent within the big league roster.  Ackley was another highly touted prospect that has his moments.  He seems to be a slow starter but a strong finisher.  Get that all worked out and the Mariners may get back what they put in with him.

Austin Jackson (CF) – Acquired in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in July of 2014.  The Mariners probably weren’t very impressed with the 54 games Jackson played with them last year.  If they can get what the Tigers got out of Jackson, the Mariners will be happy.  He can steal bases and has a decent OBP which is great for a lead-off hitter.  He is also good defensively and can close down the gaps with his speed.

Seth Smith (RF) – Acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres this offseason.  Smith is a good player that can play both corner outfield positions.  He is good at getting on base and setting the table for other hitters.  He can also hit the ball out from time to time too which isn’t a bad asset.

Nelson Cruz (DH) – Signed a four-year $57 million free agent contract with the Mariners this winter.  The Mariners wanted more pop.  They got more pop.  Cruz is a three-time All-Star that has a ton of power.  It remains to be seen how that translate into hitting in SAFECO Field, but I am doubting it will be much of a problem.  He belted 40 home runs last season as a member of the Orioles.

Projected Bench

Jesus Sucre (C) – Signed as a free agent with Seattle.  Sucre doesn’t have much experience at the major league level but even in his small sample size it shows that he is good defensively.  He had a decent minor league career and is a suitable backup.

Willie Bloomquist (IF/OF) – Signed a two-year $5.8 million free agent contract with the Mariners last winter.  The 37-year old has had a very good career as a bench player.  He can play everywhere and can hit and get on base.  He has played in over 1,000 games in 13 seasons and has a career line of .272/.319/.346/.665

Rickie Weeks (IF/OF) – Signed a one-year $2 million free agent contract with the Mariners.  Weeks is entering his 12th season in the major leagues and first with a different team.  He spent the prior 11 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.  With the middle of the infield pretty much set in Seattle, Weeks will now take on a backup role and potentially get some at-bats as the designated hitter.

Justin Ruggiano (OF) – Acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs this past winter.  Ruggiano can play any position in the outfield and can hit.  He seems better suited for a backup role as opposed to a starting role but was a nice addition to the roster.

John Ginder

Site Co-Founder/Senior Editor and Co-Host at Legends on Deck® The Podcast
In the past John has been a part of such successful sites as MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net.John was born and raised in upstate New York and has a love of all sports but mainly baseball. He has grown used to heartache with his teams as he roots for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres too.John has a loving and understanding wife and is the the proud father of two amazing boys.He also loves heavy metal music.

You can also reach out to John at jginder@legendsondeck.com